Rotary Happenings: Fighting Testicular Cancer

Jeff Muddell

Wishing that this New Year brings with it a happy and fulfilling life. It is a time to look forward and a time to think forward. There are so many opportunities were activism can help change the world. Rotary has always believed strongly in providing opportunities where individuals working together can-do great things.

The needs spanning Rotary’s six areas of focus are vast: Disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community development, peace and conflict prevention/resolution. Sanibel-Captiva Rotary has committed itself to working on these areas of focus both in our local community and abroad. We are proud of the way in which our club Rotarians have committed themselves to “Service Above Self” and invite like-minded individuals to come to one of our upcoming Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meetings and see for them self at 7 a.m. on Fridays for breakfast and meeting at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel.

With the New Year usually comes a personal promise that we should be more aware of our health. Well, just before the club’s holiday break, our club had an amazing and outstanding speaker on a health topic that is not often talked about: testicular cancer. Men, this is for you and your family; it’s all about the family jewels, so to speak.

Our guest speaker was Jeff Muddell and his topic was “Fighting Testicular Cancer.” Jeff was 40 years old. He had scheduled his yearly checkup with the doctor, but he almost canceled out on it, but didn’t. As fate would have it that was a good decision. The doctor had concerns and after complete examination found that Jeff had testicular cancer. Jeff was shook to the core. He was just 40 years old, married with three children. He had a great professional career. He was an active young man; he had run the New York City Marathon. He had testicular cancer.

Jeff gave us the facts: Compared with other types of cancer, testicular cancer is rare. However, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 40. There are around 10,000 new cases a year. It’s not clear what causes testicular cancer, but it can spread to your lymph nodes, lungs, and brain. Remember Lance Armstrong? He had testicular cancer and it had gone to his brain, but he survived.

Before 1974 testicular cancer was a death sentence with only a 20 percent survival rate, but today there is a 95 percent cure. In 1974, Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, a young medical oncologist, of Indiana University, tested the platinum-based drug Cisplatin with two additional drugs that were effective in killing testis cancer cells. Jeff’s treatment included all the required protocol including chemotherapy. It was tough, but he is a survivor. Part of that recovery was getting back to physical exercise. He started running again and was determined to run a marathon again. This was both a physical and emotional challenge.

In 2015, Jeff ran the New York City Marathon again. He might not have come in first, but he was there at the start and finish lines all the while trying to bring attention to preventive care for testicular cancer. But he isn’t stopping there. Jeff is taking on the challenge of running six additional marathons joining an elite group of runners in the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series of six of the most renowned marathons in the world: New York, London, Berlin, Chicago, Boston and Tokyo. Only 1200 runners in the U.S. have ever achieved this goal and Jeff will be the very first in Lee County. This achievement will mark five years of being cancer free.

Jeff wants to tell his story. He is dedicated to getting the word out about testicular cancer. Young men are not invincible, get your yearly checkups. Encourage all the young men in your lives to get their checkups. This is a treatable and curable cancer, don’t wait till it’s to late.

Jeff didn’t go this journey alone. His family was and is there with him. The future is bright.

To find out more about testicular cancer check out information about this rare form of cancer on the American Cancer Society Website. It might save your life or the life of a loved one.

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